EU to send firefighters, dogs and equipment to aid Beirut

EU to send firefighters, dogs and equipment to aid Beirut
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The European Union will be sending more than 100 specialised firefighters to Lebanon to provide help in Beirut, the city struck by two explosions on Tuesday.

Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič will be sending the city firefighters, vehicles, dogs and equipment all specialised for search and rescue operations in urban settings.

The forces will be cooperating with Lebanese authorities to save lives, as the search for victims caught in the rubble caused by the explosion continues.

More than 100 died and approximately 4,000 were injured following the explosions. Among the victims killed are two Belgian citizens.

“The Netherlands, Greece and the Czech Republic have already confirmed their participation in this critical operation,” Lenarčič stated.

“France, Poland and Germany have also offered to help through the mechanism, and other member states can provide support.”

Belgium will be contributing to the recovery through B-Fast: rapid intervention teams that provide emergency aid abroad.

The Netherlands will send a team of 67 firefighters, doctors and police officers who are specialised in locating victims trapped under debris to the Lebanese capital on Wednesday night.

France will contribute by sending a detachment of civil security agents to Beirut, in addition to “several tonnes of medical equipment”. 47 firefighters will leave Germany for Lebanon soon, likely on Wednesday.

The EU will also be lending its Copernicus Satellite mapping system to the Lebanese authorities, which will help to estimate the damage.

The operation is part of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which aims to “improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters” all over the world, whenever a disaster “overwhelms the response capabilities of a country”.

Tuesday night, Israel was an early responder to the disaster, offering to help in a rare show of sympathy for Lebanon. Lebanon-Israeli relations have known ups and downs from the start in the 1940s, with most recent conflicts concerning the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

On Wednesday, The Times of Israel reported that Lebanon had not responded to Israels offer for help.

Amée Zoutberg

The Brussels Times

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